Waikoloa (Beach Course)
Another resort layout born in the lava fields of south Kona, this 1980 design by Robert Trent Jones Jr. boasts the most spectacular par 5 in Hawaii. The 12th hole provides an ocean view Bill Gates wouldn’t mind having. You can often see humpback whales breaching off the coast, and like many of the courses on this stretch of beach, there is plenty of history and mystique to go around. Once done, there’s shopping and eating galore at a modest mall located on the resort. Just to get one look at Anaechoomalu Bay during sunset is worth the price of admission.
Mauna Kea Beach Golf Course
Built in 1964 by Robert Trent Jones Sr., this South Kohala Coast course is another gem in the lava rocks. There are 120 bunkers on this course that has dramatic differences in elevation. The panoramic views of the Pacific and nearby mountain ranges leave you staring in wonder as you take in the natural beauty of this young island. This is the first resort course on the Big Island and took some serious imagination to build 18 holes in a lava field. The Mauna Kea Resort is there to provide for the rest of your needs. The nearby beaches are among the most beautiful in the island chain.
Hapuna Golf Course
A decade ago, they called this Arnold Palmer-designed course one for the future. With the help of Ed Seay, Palmer did his best not to disturb the natural landscape in building a course that goes from the seashore to the mountain. At its peak, Hapuna rises 700 feet above the ocean, providing golfers some of the more spectacular views on the Big Island. Once done, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel provides the necessary amenities with the Mauna Kea volcano as a backdrop. Being sensitive to the environment was Palmer’s goal, showing the way for many courses worldwide since to think green.
Hualalai Golf Club
The Champions Tour doesn’t want to begin its season any place else, recently signing a new deal to keep the winners-only tournament in the lava rocks of the Kona Coast. This Jack Nicklaus- designed course can be had if the winds stay low, mainly because of the immaculate greens, the senior circuit calls, “the best on tour.” That’s a good thing, because if you can’t keep it in the fairway here, you are in the rocks and that’s basically unplayable. When calling it a day at the Five Diamond Four Seasons Resort, plan to be spoiled. This place is so secluded, singer Janet Jackson is one of the neighbors.
Mauna Lani Resort (South Course)
The former home of the Senior Skins game, this challenging golf course is built around the natural beauty of when the lava flow hits the sea. There are mountain and ocean views in every direction, providing the visitor a full range of the Big Island experience along the South Kona Coast. Designed by Robin Nelson in 1981, the resort course is near Kamuela and is a favorite for those who can drive and putt for dough. The resort itself loves to pamper its guests, giving in to their every need. The biggest town, Kailua-Kona, is 30-something miles away, but does provide a nice coastal community to visit if you get cabin fever.
Paul Arnett is the sports editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He covers professional golf during the Aloha Season in Hawaii.
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Hawaii golf courses - The Big Islands Top 5
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.